Kakutani struck again: She recycled anti-Clinton review

››› ››› DAVID BROCK

Compare New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani's June 10, 2003, review of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir, Living History, with Kakutani's June 20, 2004, review of former President Bill Clinton's memoir, My Life:

Living History

"'Living History' is a mishmash..."

My Life

"In fact, 'My Life' reads like a messy pastiche..."

Living History

"The other has to do with Mrs. Clinton's penchant for blaming enemies, from political opponents to a 'vast right-wing conspiracy,' for her and her husband's failures and travails."

My Life

"... he spends far more space excoriating his nemesis, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, and the press."

Living History

"Though Mrs. Clinton admits that she made missteps with her health care plan (its failure contributed to the Republicans' taking control of both the House and the Senate in 1994 for the first time in 40 years), she tends to attribute many of her and her husband's difficulties before and during his presidency to 'the politics of personal destruction.'"

My Life

"Mr. Clinton takes more responsibility in these pages for his affair with Ms. Lewinsky, his lies about that affair and the damage inflicted on his family and his presidency than he has in the past. But he still spends a lot of time -- as his wife did in her book -- assailing right-wing enemies for his woes over Whitewater, the Paula Jones case and impeachment."

Living History

"The first underscores the chameleonlike quality she's always shared with her husband, the belief, as he once put it, that character 'is a journey, not a destination.'"

My Life

"Mr. Clinton once remarked that he saw character as 'a journey, not a destination,' and at the end of this book, he cites 'becoming a good person' as one of his life's goals."

Living History

"The least self-conscious portions of this book deal with Mrs. Clinton's childhood. ... These sections have a homey immediacy lacking in the rest of 'Living History'..."

My Life

"In comparison to these self-serving, often turgid attempts to defend his reputation, Mr. Clinton's account of his youth in Arkansas possesses a pleasing emotional directness."

Living History

"Her 562-page book is in many ways an artifact of the curious age in which we live: an age in which confession and 'sharing' have become talking points for public figures..."

My Life

"Looking back on those days of living with a violent, abusive stepfather, Mr. Clinton writes like someone familiar with therapeutic tropes."

Living History

"... by now familiar accounts of Hillary Rodham Clinton's metamorphosis over the years..."

My Life

"... the self-portrait that emerges from this book is not all that different a Bill Clinton from the one the public has already come to know..."

Living History

"We learn that Mrs. Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, wore long, flowing tunics over loose pants during a trip to India and Pakistan..."

My Life

"... he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria's new president on TV."

Living History

"Yet the book skates over the problems the Clinton administration faced in its rocky debut and in the impeachment crisis and skims over details of matters like Whitewater and 'travelgate'..."

My Life

"... but the failure of his health care initiative, overseen by Mrs. Clinton, is glossed over..."

Living History

"... radiates the faintly stale air (particularly unnerving in the audio versions of the memoir) of being the carefully rehearsed and elided statements of a professional pol intent on turning a book tour into the first leg of another campaign."

My Life

"Part of the problem, of course, is that Mr. Clinton is concerned, here, with cementing -- or establishing -- his legacy, while at the same time boosting (or at least not undermining) the political career of his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Living History

"... an age in which ... scandal translates instantly into celebrity."

My Life

"... these excavations of self -- a staple of celebrity and noncelebrity memoirs these days..."

Living History

"The book struggles to turn the author's many contradictions..."

My Life

"... someone riven by contradictions..."

Living History

"... for all its roller-coaster drama -- all the political scandals, marital woes and startling comebacks and reinventions..."

My Life

"... a harrowing roller-coaster ride of precocious achievements, self-inflicted slip-ups and even more startling comebacks..."

Related Links

Stories/Interests
Clinton's "My Life"
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